BOSTON — What a difference a year makes.
After being throttled by the Cleveland Cavaliers in last season’s Eastern Conference finals, the Boston Celtics flipped the script with a 108-83 shellacking of the Cavs in Game 1 of the 2018 ECF on Sunday at TD Garden.
It was a wire-to-wire rout for Boston. Jaylen Brown led the way with a game-high 23 points and was one of four Celtics to score in double figures, along with Marcus Morris (21 points), Al Horford (20 points) and Jayson Tatum (16 points).
Cleveland shot a lowly 36 percent from the field in the contest, while LeBron James’ path of destruction came to a pause as the star forward was limited to just 15 points.
With the win, the Celtics take a 1-0 series lead.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Terry Rozier
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Al Horford
HOT AND COLD
It seemed as though the Celtics couldn’t miss in the first quarter, while the Cavs couldn’t even buy a basket. After 12 minutes of play, Boston held a commanding 36-18 lead, which marked a new record for the largest playoff first-quarter deficit James has faced in his 15-year career.
Behind 63.6 percent shooting from the field, the C’s had two players score in double figures in the first. Brown pitched in 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while Horford knocked down all four of his field goals in his 11-point quarter. James led the way for the Cavs — who shot 31.8 percent from the field — in the first with a mere five points. Boston also outrebounded Cleveland by a 14-6 margin.
Things didn’t get much better for the Cavs in the second. After converting on just eight of its 25 shots from the field, Cleveland faced a 61-35 deficit at the break. The Cavs particularly struggled from distance as they missed all 12 of their 3-point shots in the first half. Boston, on the other hand, posted a 5-for-12 mark from downtown.
Tatum got into a bit of a groove in the second after a quiet first, scoring seven points in the frame. Brown also finished the first half strong with five second-quarter points by knocking down both of his shots and one free-throw attempt.
The 16-point halftime deficit also marked another playoff career-worst for James.
NOT SO FAST
The Celtics like they were going to entirely put the game out of reach when they extended their lead to 28 to open the third, but the Cavs stayed the course. Cleveland nearly cut the lead in half as Boston took a 78-64 advantage into the final frame.
The Cavs’ stars helped them get back in the game, as James (eight points) and Kevin Love (nine points) combined for over half of the team’s third-quarter points. It was a quiet quarter for the Celtics, who only managed to score 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting. Morris and Horford each provided six points in the frame.
FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED
The Celtics weren’t going to let the Cavaliers make this one interesting in the fourth quarter. Boston got off to a quick 7-0 run in the stanza and never looked back. Morris and Tatum carried the load in the fourth with seven points apiece, while Marcus Smart (five points) and Rozier (four points) weren’t far behind. Boston held Cleveland to 19 points in the quarter.
PLAY OF THE GAME
An end-to-end gem from Brown.
The Celtics and Cavaliers resume the series Tuesday night. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports
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